Monday, 28 October 2013

Tree hits two houses on Fernwood Avenue

A tree was blown over at about 6.00am this morning, falling against two houses on Fernwood Avenue.

No one was hurt, but there appears to be some damage to the chimneys and roofs on both houses. The tree has pulled right out of the pavement. Fernwood Avenue is closed at the junction with Mitcham Lane.

This tree was reported to Lambeth Council 18 months ago, as the roots were coming through the pavement making it hard to pass by. All the trees in the road were supposed to have been pruned by Lambeth Council a few weeks ago, after a local resident raised concerns. We passed on the request onto the Council.

A request was made by one of the residents for this specific tree to be pruned back as it is particularly tall, and had a lot of leaves which residents feared would catch the wind. The Council appears to have failed to do it properly.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Sheltered Housing saved in Streatham

There was some great news yesterday, when residents at The Glebe on Prentis Road received letters from Lambeth Council telling them that plans had been scrapped to knock down the sheltered housing where they live.

I took over a bottle of champagne, and we celebrated together (picture to the left). Some were quite tearful with joy. All were hugely relieved.

The decision followed a nine-month campaign. The residents came to us after they received our literature through their doors asking if there was anything we could help them with, and local councillors had failed to do anything to help.

We made posters for them which went into local shops, we helped them collect over 1,600 signatures on a petition, raised the issue with the Mayor of London (thanks to London Assembly member Darren Johnson), spoke at public meetings and took residents to meet Lambeth Council leader Lib Peck. There was also some good, constant press and media coverage of the campaign. (You can see some of the details here)

Lambeth announced plans at the beginning of the year to 'reorganise' its sheltered housing right across the borough, after what it admits has been years of under investment. Several schemes are to be sold off to make money. Other schemes are to be demolished and rebuilt as "extra care" housing, which many older people (such as those in The Glebe who have made trips to visit it at other locations) feel will increase their dependency and institutionalise them. It will certainly destroy the community that they have created.

The Glebe is actually in very good condition, being only 35 years old. The decision seemed to have been made on the basis that Lambeth Council decided that it wanted "extra care" housing in Streatham, and the Glebe was considered the right size. Despite the condition of the building, the unanimous opposition from residents wishes it would be flattened and rebuilt.

The situation was made worse for the residents when there was an explosion and fire next door in July. This broke windows along one side of The Glebe, and destroyed the guttering at the top. Lambeth Council promised to fix this quickly. But in the end residents were left by the Council for weeks with boarded up windows in the stifling heat, and water pouring down the side of the building when it rained. It looked as if Lambeth really didn't care about the existing buildings or the residents.

However, yesterday we learned that Lambeth Council has agreed instead to consult about finding a different site in Streatham to build their extra care scheme (one location could for example be the derelict site near Streatham Common opposite the new hub development). Glebe residents will instead be given new kitchens, windows and bathrooms. Some of the flats may also be made more accessible, as we suggested during the consultation.

Things like this should be possible right across the borough, as we have shown that Lambeth has received over £100m available to improve its sheltered housing. But the Council intends instead to push ahead with its plans elsewhere in the borough. Sites will still be sold off are Leigham Court Road, Queenswood Court, Westcott House and McCall House. Denby Court, Elderberry Grove and Fitch Court will still be demolished and rebuilt as extra care schemes. This is because, as the Council's new report states, it wants to spend this money elsewhere and instead raise an additional £10m, with older people paying the price.

There will be a demonstration by Glebe residents and others outside the Town Hall on Monday 4th November from 6,00pm, when the Cabinet meets to formally approve the new plans. All are very welcome to join in.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Do you want trees on your street?

Many local residents have been frustrated that they haven't been able to get street trees in their roads, because Lambeth Council has cut its tree budget. But if you are in Streatham and want trees on your road, now is your opportunity! (But you will need to move fast).

Thanks to some enterprising work by local people, £67,500 has been provisionally offered to plant 300 trees in Streatham by Groundworks on behalf of the Mayors Street Tree Initiative.

Things are moving very rapidly, and before Friday this week information is required on any empty tree bays, dead trees, or any locations where residents want trees, in the Streatham area.

Also required is any documentation on consultations that have been conducted in Streatham with regard to trees and an estimate of the hours spent doing these, as this can be counted as match funding in kind.

Drop me a line before Friday if you know of any locations which could do with some trees and I'll pass the information on to Anthony Ellis who is co-ordinating the initiative. My email: (Jonathan.Bartley (at) )

Staff at new Streatham Leisure Centre won't be paid Living Wage

Despite a promise that all its staff and contractors will be paid a Living Wage, when Lambeth Council's new Leisure Centre opens in Streatham on 18th November it seems some staff may be earning as little as £5.61 an hour.

The advert here from contractor Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) shows, Assistant Customer Service Advisors at the new Leisure Centre being recruited for £5.61 to £7.66 an hour. The bottom rate is just two thirds of the Living Wage rate, currently set in London at £8.55 an hour.

It has already been established that Lambeth Council didn't even try to negotiate a Living Wage for employees at the new Tesco megastore, which is also part of the new hub development. But it seems that even staff contracted to run the leisure services won't be paid a Living Wage.

Streatham has been without a leisure centre for four years, after years of under investment led to the roof falling in and its closure in November 2009. Lambeth then negotiated a £26 million deal with Tesco to build a new leisure centre on the site of the Ice Rink, with a colossal Tesco superstore being built on the site of the old leisure centre. The store now towers above the new leisure centre along with 250 apartments which are being marketed at overseas buy-to-let investors, under the slogan "come to live, come to invest".

After pressure from Greens, Lambeth finally agreed to extend the Living Wage to contractors at the end of 2012. (This covers contractors like Greenwich Leisure Limited, who will run the new Leisure Centre in Streatham).

When Lambeth Council became a Living Wage employer, Lambeth Labour Party were quick to claim that it would mean:

"Labour in Labour can make sure that staff who are employed by contractors on the Council’s behalf will now also benefit from the wage rise".

But Labour has form for making false claims on the Living Wage. In the same press release Labour stated:

"Lambeth Council has been paying the London Living Wage to all staff that it directly employs since 2006"

But as its own council report stated clearly, even six years later - in October 2012 - it wasn't paying it to some trainee social workers, cleaners, staff it directly employed in schools, not to mention apprentices.

In 2012 Lambeth decided to apply for formal Living Wage accreditation. As part of this it promised to negotiate a Living Wage with contractors. I raised the issue, at a public meeting to discuss the new leisure centre with Lambeth councillors, Lambeth officers, representatives of Greenwich Leisure. who said they were fully aware of this commitment. But it appears that they have not stuck to it.

The role of Assistant Customer Service Advisor, which is being advertised at a rate which is just two thirds of the Living Wage, is an outward facing one. The successful applicant will be:

"Responsible for delivering an excellent service to all customers by answering telephones, providing customer information, handling transactions, managing customer access, responding to sales enquiries and converting them into sales, and dealing with customer complaints, mainly within the reception and sales areas."

This is precisely the kind of job that the Living Wage should benefit, boosting morale, making staff feel valued and enhancing the quality of their work, and so benefiting everyone who comes into contact with them. It won't just be the employees who will the be poorer for the absence of the Living Wage from the new leisure centre, but everyone who visits.

The new leisure centre will open on 18th November just after National Living Wage Week.

Monday, 14 October 2013

A family friendly leisure centre and hub

We have been campaigning over the last 2 years for a family friendly hub at the new Leisure centre when it opens (expected November) - including family-friendly changing, affordable use of the leisure centre for families (including free swimming sessions for children). There have also been concerns at the lack of family housing in the 250 apartments being built as part of the Tesco development.

As we have retweeted, Streatham Mums have identified that there won't be any creche facilities at the new leisure centre and launched a petition which we will draw to the attention of local media. This is something which we have also been pushing the council on since it was identified at the public meeting in February 2012 (as we reported here in point 9) so Lambeth Council really have no excuse.

Collapsing drain outside 17 Tooting Bec Gardens

We have asked Transport for London to look at a drain outside 17 Tooting Bec Gardens, which appears to be collapsing on the road by the vehicle crossover, and take appropriate action to get it fixed. This should be treated as urgent by TfL.

[Update: 15/10/13 TfL came last night and fixed it very speedily]

Friday, 11 October 2013

Graffiti on Mitcham Lane by Streatham Green

A lot of graffiti has appeared on the utility boxes by Streatham Green on Mitcham Lane.

We have taken some pictures and sent them to the council, asking the Council for the graffiti to be cleaned.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Water leak on Tooting Bec Gardens

There is a water leak coming from under the kerb outside 35 Tooting Bec Gardens. The water is running right down the road as far as the junction with Garrad's Road and Ambleside Avenue.

We have reported it to Thames Water, and asked for it to be fixed as soon as possible.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Hole finally filled in outside 125 Babington Road

It has taken about a year to get it sorted out, with endless calls and emails, but the large hole outside number 125 Babington Road has finally been fixed.

The large hole was first reported to the Council in September 2012. A flimsy cover was then placed over the hole. This was then dislodged, and barriers were put around it. This meant the pavement was partially blocked for months.

Lambeth Council have finally filled the hole a few weeks ago...

Our next job is to get them to remove all the barriers and clutter which still haven't been collected....